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New $20 note proves durable in Canadian weather conditions


Staff writers
November 9, 2012 — Paper or plastic? A Bank of Canada scientist demonstrates how the durability of the new polymer banknotes is tested. The bank sent the new $20 bill into circulation Wednesday.


New polymer notes more durable than paper notes
New polymer notes more durable than paper notes

On Wednesday, the Bank of Canada began circulating a new $20 bill made of polymer instead of paper.

The $20 is the country's mostly widely used bank note and the durability of the new notes were tested to ensure they satisfy the requirements of the Canadian environment.

"First what we do is put the notes through what we call a crumple tester because paper notes will sometimes tear when they're very crumpled," says Bank of Canada scientific adviser, Martine Warren. "The polymer note is very durable however, so we can crumple it several times and there are no holes or tears." 

Another part of the durability testing is making sure the notes can withstand the Canadian weather elements.  The note was put into a pot of boiling water for 45 minutes. "So even at 100 degrees, the note exhibits no change," says Warren. 

The Weather Network conducted an experiment of our own and put a new $50 bill to the test back in July. 

"I presume it's well over 50°C inside my car," said Weather Network News Manager Sheryl Plouffe as she examined the note. "But clearly the bills are staying in-tact."

Polymer notes can withstand frigid winter temperatures
Polymer notes can withstand frigid winter temperatures

On the opposite side of the scale, scientists placed the $20 note into a glove box with dry ice chips and a temperature of about -50 degrees. 

"And I can take the note, crumple out the note and give it some sharp tugs and it shows that even on our coldest days, we'll be able to use the polymer notes," adds Warren.

The new bill pays tribute to the contributions and sacrifices of Canadian men and women in all military conflicts and was released just before Remembrance Day. The note features a view of the Canadian National Vimy Memorial on its back. 

The bill was formally introduced in a ceremony at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa by Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Veterans Affairs Minister Steven Blaney. 

The Bank of Canada began issuing polymer money a year ago with a new $100 bill, followed by a $50 note in March. New $5 and $10 notes are scheduled to be issued by the end of 2013.

With files from The Canadian Press

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